December Reflections 12: best meal of 2018

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The best meal of 2018 was undoubtedly breakfast in Bratislava. I quote from my diary:

… not overpriced at all, because there was a huge amount of it. If anything, the menu undersells it. Nicest breakfast I’ve had in ages. Orangey sausages – presumably with paprika – cherry tomatoes, red peppers, courgettes, squash, mangetout, French beans, various salad leaves; poached egg; toast.

In Slovak, assuming I copied it down correctly:

klobásky s. gril. zeleniou a pošírovaným vajcom

I ate an awful lot of bread and cheese when I was InterRailing, and by the half-way point a breakfast that consisted of bright colours and all the major food groups was very welcome. Dinner the previous night had been very good, and cheap (gnocchi with sheep’s cheese; white wine; Slovak whisky: just over €10), but even allowing for the stock of apples I’d been hauling round Europe I thought I was probably running a vitamin deficit. This was a delicious way to put that right. And the menu had some good advice, too.

December Reflections 2: favourite photo of 2018

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(What happened to December Reflections 1? You can see the picture here. But I’m using this prompt series as part of my Advent practice, and Advent only started today.)

I left on my InterRail adventure in the middle of April, which this year followed up the snowpocalypse of March with two solid weeks of grey dreariness, and all the trees stayed bare. The first day took me from London to Hamburg, which is about as far as one can comfortably get in a day. I had to change in Brussels, then Welkenraedt, then Aachen, and then finally Düsseldorf on the way.

I’d got it all planned – and, as my plan came to pass, I became increasingly confident. I was not worried about the Eurostar. I felt a bit nervous about the Belgian trains, but after I’d boarded and alighted from two I was beginning to feel as if I could do this. There were young green leaves on the trees in Belgium, too.

And the timetable worked out in such a way that I had a choice of trains at Aachen. I’d originally envisaged myself pushing right on through to Hamburg as fast as possible, but then I thought it would be a pity not to see where Charlemagne was crowned, and so I decided that I could be brave. I could be spontaneous. I could change my plans.

I talked a bit of German. I worked out the left luggage locker. And I hot-footed it across Aachen to the cathedral.

And outside Aachen cathedral was this glorious magnolia tree, in full bloom. It was as if my long-delayed spring had come to me all at once – except that I’d gone to find it.